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How to Make the Most of Pantry Items

Updated: Apr 30, 2021

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Let’s face it – being home for this long has been a challenge. As the months drag on, I’m trying to find more things to keep me busy at home. I still tend to my roses on the balcony, but I’ve also found myself baking a lot– it’s a favorite pastime of mine. Having extra time on my hands has made me get more creative in the kitchen.

If you’re like me, you bought a lot of pantry staples at the beginning of quarantine to make sure you wouldn’t have to go to the store too often. Now I have an abundance of basic ingredients burning a hole in my pantry! Instead of letting those staples go to waste (or take up space), I’ve been trying to use them to make other things — and I’m sure you can see I have a sweet tooth!

Baking with pantry staples is also much easier than you think, and if you don’t have some of these things on hand, there are tons of substitutes already in your cupboard. There are so many great baking charts out there, but I think that these articles have the best range of substitute options.

My Pecan Crescent cookies call for pecans (obviously), but I know that not everyone has pecans on hand or someone might have a nut allergy. I have found that a few of my favorite nut substitutions are granola or rolled oats. These two ingredients will add a similar texture to pecans. Here is another great article talking about nut substitutes

Pecan Crescent Cookie


1 cup pecans (before chopping) 1 cup unsifted flour 2 tablespoons sugar ½ cup butter, softened ½ teaspoon vanilla Powdered sugar

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees -Chop pecans finely and set aside. On slow speed, mix in flour, sugar, butter and vanilla until blended. Add chopped pecans

-Shape into crescents and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from pan to rack placed on paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar when cookies are cool.

Some of my favorite recipes, which are also in my book, Stories from Candyland, are very simple and only use ingredients everyone would have in their pantry. The Thumbprint Cookies are always a hit and the good news, is that they are small and perhaps I’ll have one or two and let everyone enjoy the rest! The Popovers are so delicious and while I usually make them as part of a holiday lunch or dinner, they are pretty good with coffee in the morning!

Candy’s Thumbprint Cookies


½ pound butter (two sticks) ½ cup sugar 3 egg yolks 3 cups flour jam of choice

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees -Cream butter and sugar well. Add 1 egg yolk at a time and mix well, then add flour.

-Roll the dough in balls and press well on a cookie sheet, leaving a ‘well’ in the middle of each with your thumb. -Bake for 20 minutes -Fill center with jam while still warm

Candy Spelling Popovers


1 cup flour ½ teaspoon salt 1 cup milk 2 eggs (3 if small)

-Preheat over to 425 degrees (400 if using glass) -Sift flour and mix with salt, milk, and eggs. Pour into well-greased deep muffin cups (¾ full) or ramekin (oven glass cup) (½ full). Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately. -Makes 5 to 9 popovers, depending on size of muffin cup. Tastes delicious with jam and butter.

If you have been baking or cooking more, I encourage you to share some of your favorite recipes and new tricks you have learned during this time in quarantine. I know it hasn’t been the easiest time, but I’m sure it has been delicious.

Now let’s get cooking!

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